With over 500 million active monthly users, Instagram is a gold mine of potential customers.
Can you believe the app has only been around since 2010? In less than seven years, it’s become one of the world’s most used apps. I daresay Instagram even changed the way people use their phone in their daily lives.
It’s not all unicorns and butterflies, though. Since a typical Instagram user misses 70% of the posts from the accounts they follow, you can’t simply rely on pumping out more images.
Don’t worry. In this post, I’ll be discussing how to increase your sales from Instagram with 10 rock-star tips that help you cut through the clutter. Let’s jump right in!
#1: Craft Better Images
Of course, Instagram is all about images. It’s literally what the platform is built on. If you’re not putting out high-quality images, that’s the first thing you need to change.
You don’t need an amazing camera to take great photos, either. Most smartphones now have cameras with more than enough quality.
Huffington Post shared 29 Instagram hacks to take better photos. Some of the most important are:
- Pick a theme for your feed and stick to it.
- Post consistently.
- Take a lot of pictures. Practice makes perfect!
- That said, don’t post them all. Aim for quality over quantity.
- Keep your edits simple.
- Shoot from different angles and take advantage of good lighting.
Beyond simply shooting the photos, you can also enhance them with the right tools. For example, you may want to add an inspirational quote over a great scenery shot you took. For that, you can use Buffer’s Pablo, Adobe Spark, or Canva.
If you’re at a loss for what to post about, there are plenty of tools out there to help you. For example, PromoRepublic is a Post Ideas Library with ready-made visual post templates for almost any industry.
For more inspiration, check out these great Instagram profiles:
#2: Run Contests
Contests are probably the best way to increase sales on Instagram. At the very least, they can help build your followers, brand recognition, and engagement.
There are three main types of contests:
- “Like to win” (They just have to like your photo)
- “Email gated” (Send in your email to win)
- Hashtag UGC (Submit a photo with a hashtag)
The best I’ve seen is hashtag UGC. People tend to enjoy it the most, and since they’re looking for ideas to add to their feed anyway, you give them another reason to add an image.
One cool contest example is Franwork’s Movember contest. They made mustache coasters for their restaurant and asked their followers to upload photos of themselves with the coasters in front of their face. So cool!
If you’re struggling with contest ideas, you can find your competitors’ previous contests using Iconosquare. Also, if you’re running a contest on a massive scale, you can use a tool like Wishpond for easy content management.
#3: Leverage Videos and Stories
With the recent release of Instagram Stories, you can now take Snapchat-style video to send out to your followers. Of course, you’ve always been able to upload videos to your feed, but are you taking advantage of it?
According to April 2015 research by Locowise, only 10.81% of Instagram posts are in video format. Yet, they get 17.51% of all comments!
To make the most out of your Instagram videos, try these tips:
- Just like with images, shoot video in great lighting.
- Get a tripod to keep your camera or smartphone steady as you record.
- Shoot behind-the-scenes footage to make your followers feel special.
- Capture your products in action — especially if you get a customer using it.
- Show what you see through your eyes. Try to capture your brand’s life.
Want some inspiration? Here’s one of my favorite Instagram videos by Ben & Jerry’s.
You can learn more about how to use Instagram videos here.
Pro Tip: Instagram recently released the ability to see your stats and display ads on Stories. All the more reason to use it!
#4: Give Your Followers Exclusive Info
Part of the appeal of following a brand on Instagram is the idea that we’re somehow “insiders.” In fact, it’s in our psychology that being part of a group motivates us to take action.
Why not capitalize on this finding?
Exclusive info doesn’t have to just be exclusive discounts or coupons. You can also offer things like:
- Free trials or products
- Instagram-only contests
- Behind-the-scenes pictures and videos
For example, Intel frequently shares images and videos of their employees’ adventures at tech shows and their customer’s dreams and ambitions.
#5: Always Respond to Comments
If your followers are commenting, you should be taking full advantage! Comments show that people like your posts and want to engage with your brand.
It’s also important to respond fairly quickly. Usually no longer than 24 hours. If you take too long to answer, people will feel they’re not a priority or that you didn’t read their comment. That said, even if it takes longer, still make an effort to answer. You can even use tip #10 in your comments!
Pro tip: If you get so many comments that you simply can’t keep up (good on you!), you can always consider hiring a virtual assistant to take care of the comments for you. Some can be found at very reasonable rates and do a great job.
#6: Direct Message Your Fans to Ask for Shares
Sometimes you have to do things that don’t scale in order to grow your business. While messaging dozens or even hundreds of individuals can be time-consuming and tedious, it can net some serious results.
That begs the question… what should you say?
Well, in my experience, I’ve found openness and honesty to have the best result. For example, if I was reaching out to someone to ask them to share my photos, I’d probably say something like this:
I just wanted to say I really appreciate you following our business on Instagram. We love seeing your images in our feed. You have a great eye! I was just wondering… since you have so many great followers as well, would you mind sharing our post to help us get more eyes on it? Thanks so much! 🙂
And remember — this is a numbers game. The more people you message, the higher your chance of success!
#7: Use More Hashtags
Unlike Twitter and Facebook, where using more than two hashtags decreases engagement, Instagram users can’t get enough of them. In fact, the more hashtags you use, the more engagement you get!
The verdict? Use all 30 of your available hashtags for your posts.
If you’re not sure what hashtags to use, you can look for competitors’ hashtags or check out the 100 most popular hashtags compiled by Webstagram here. You can also check out what hashtags your followers are using to see what’s popular within your niche.
#8: Include Links to Your Store
This tip is kind of a no-brainer, but because of that it’s also easily forgotten. Without a link to your store (usually placed in your bio), your followers don’t have a way of easily becoming customers.
While you can’t link directly from your images and videos, you should still put the URL there for anyone interested in copy-pasting it. That’s also why you should try to make your URLs short and readable.
#9: Make Friends With Influencers
Influencers are one of the core ways to grow a massive following and achieve a sales increase on Instagram.
Take this partnership between Old Spice and Logan Paul. The video got 3 million views!
While I don’t recommend paying them (at least not at the start), you can offer them free products and discounts for their followers. While on your hunt for the right people, try to find users who have not only a large follower base but also high engagement. You don’t want someone who just bought their followers.
#10: Use the New Language of the Internet
That’s right — the internet has a new language. In fact, it’s nothing more than symbols. You’ve probably even used it before.
That language is emojis. With the launch of the emoji keyboard on iOS, emoji use has exploded on Instagram.
Wondering which emojis to use? Simply Measured analyzed 2500 Instagram posts and found that “love hearts” receive the most engagement per post, followed by “Sparkles” and “artist palette”.
In the end, Instagram can be a lucrative place to get more sales for your business. Nearly 57% of Instagram users use the platform daily. However, it can also be a little daunting and confusing at times. With these ten tips, you’ll be well on your way to using Instagram to its full potential.
Featured Image: Bill Widmer
Screenshots by Bill Widmer. Taken March 2017.